U.S. stocks were little moved on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 ending a fraction below its record close, as investors tracked developments in Ukraine and disregarded U.S. economic reports as impacted by the weather.
The Federal Reserve's Beige Book offered confirmation that the harsh winter impacted the economy.
"Simply put, the Fed's Beige Book indicates that weather affected nearly the entire economy across the country this winter," offered Dan Greenhaus, chief strategist at BTIG.
Ahead of the Fed release, a measure of the service sector declined and another report had the private sector adding fewer-than-projected jobs in February, with both seen as being impacted by the weather.
"My take is that investors have been willing to excuse the economic data that we've had cloaked under snowmageddon. It's really difficult to be precise on how much the weather has influenced the data," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.
Also, it "stands to reason after a particularly strong day yesterday that we would cool off a little bit, plus the heightened tensions over the Ukraine have dissipated. But that's not over, so there has to be some handicapping," added Luschini, referring to Wall Street's rally on Tuesday as fears lessened that Russia's move into Crimea could escalate into a bigger conflict in Ukraine.
Smith & Wesson Holding rallied after the gun manufacturer hiked its profit outlook. Shares of Target edged lower after the discount retailer's chief information officer resigned in the wake of the huge pre-holiday data breach.